Teaching Web Working: 5 Tips

Every so often, a friend or relative of mine decides that they want to be able to handle more of their work online, and in my circle, I’m the person that gets asked about how to do it. Just what information I point these friends and relatives toward depends on their particular careers, of course, although people seem to be more concerned about the tools, at least at first.

I’ve noticed some other patterns that also make it easier to get these future web workers up to speed.

  1. It’s easier to teach tools than mindset. I’ve been helping out a friend who wants to move from working for an employer to freelancing. She’s picked up the tools that I’ve showed to her very quickly — but she’s still getting used to the idea that most of what she was doing in person can be accomplished online.
  2. Always point out the tutorials and FAQs. I’m always happy to help out a friend, but we all have those friends that need three or four reminders on what may seem like an easy step to us. If you’re showing a friend one of the tools you use, make sure to point him or her to the documentation so that they can go back and look things up as needed.
  3. Start small. It’s easy to get very used to working online with a wide variety of tools, if that’s what you do day in and day out. If you’re talking to someone relatively new to the game, just suggesting three new web sites can overwhelm them. Don’t try to list off every great piece of software in one go.
  4. Explain that everyone can learn this. I’ve heard more than one person over the age of 25 tell me that they’re far too old to learn new tools, usually after just a few minutes of talking about technology. The fact of the matter is that there is no age limit on learning new technology. It’s important to be sensitive to such worries, but it’s also important to explain that learning is doable.
  5. Be prepared for follow up questions. Even if a new web worker has all the documentation in the world, there are some questions that he or she’ll want to ask someone with experience. While it seems that most future web workers start out with technical questions, as things proceed, you may get questions like how to sell the boss on the idea of telecommuting.

Do you mentor novice web workers? Share your tips below.

Image by Flickr user aranarth

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